Zoning Rewrite Unveiled

by jhwygirl

I’m confused, but fiddlesticks, the zoning rewrite has been underway and whether it was unveiled at the Planning Board meeting last night or whether it is unveiled tomorrow night (as the press release indicates – March 6th) is probably moot. Right?

Maybe its the 4 days of Dayquil/Nyquil…..

A report is written, and will be presented in a public meeting tomorrow night, 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers. Duncan Associates has been retained to guide the process and project leader Kirk Bishop will present the findings and recommendations that have been compiled after “six months of intensive public participation and information gathering and two subsequent months of research and analysis.”

The report is really detailed – lots of good stuff, with comparisons of the current zoning document alongside with recommendations for the rewritten version. Tables, illustrations – all the kinds of things that you see in more modern, user-friendly regulatory documents. You really should take a look at it – because if you don’t understand it, the new document won’t be worth a damned. And that’s the current situation we’ve got – and unruly document that is damned near insane to have to understand and make logic of. Contradictions abound – and interpretations are necessary for just about ever facet of the thing.

Danger, danger: Interpretations, interpretations.

It’s a document that everyone – even the lay person – should be able to read and understand. Think of it as Missoula’s Handbook. You’ll be able to understand a whole lot about your neighborhood’s current development and development potential by reading that zoning book and knowing your zoning.

An Advisory Group has been compiled – it’s a pretty diverse group. Some seem to have their own personal agendas….read through that list and see if you can spot them. Test to follow.

There’s a great bunch of information off of the main zoningmissoula website, with a list of all of the groups that they have met with and the meetings that have been held. The rewrite is long in coming and sorely needed….while the About page gives more information, the first two paragraphs sum it up well:

Through the leadership of Mayor John Engen and the Missoula City Council, the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations Update project was initiated by the Office of Planning and Grants. Why? Because the existing development rulebook is woefully out-of-date, maybe even downright broken. It is difficult to use, administer and implement consistently. Those who deal with the zoning ordinance—whether daily or infrequently—lament its sometimes crude, often unpredictable and mostly incomprehensible nature. And perhaps most important, the existing regulations often fail to produce the results Missoulians desire with any degree of certainty.

These observed shortcomings are not surprising. The last comprehensive overhaul of city’s zoning ordinance occurred in 1972 and many of the ordinance’s provisions date to 1932, when zoning was first adopted in the city. Yet despite near universal frustration with the existing regulatory system, previous efforts to update it have fallen short.…at least partly because of inadequate community input and involvement. Successful completion this time around will require and be founded on true community collaboration.

1972? 1932? Are you kidding me?!

“Woefully”? I’d say that might be a bit of an understatement.

The report isn’t the actual document – that will be brought forward later.

There is a public workshop schedule for April 2nd.


  1. Thanks for reporting on this. I’ve had some vague notions of what is going on with this rewrite, but you’ve helped fill in some of the details. I’m looking forward to reading through this document. For my sake, I hope it really is user-friendly.

  2. goof houlihan

    Hey Daniel I’d reply to your blog but you won’t let me. And I’m anonymous and staying that way.

  3. goof houlihan

    Performance based zoning, inclusionary zoning if you will, although not in the traditional way, is better than the exclusionary zoning model that we’ve all used all these years.

    But it takes people who know what they’re doing to do it.

    Throw out the way everyone is Montana does it, and try performance zoning. Define what’s good, and approve that.




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